24th Annual National Service Learning Conference in Denver, Colorado

posted Mar 21, 2013, 9:52 PM by Brad Kohl   [ updated Mar 22, 2013, 11:53 PM ]

March 13-15, 2013

Seniors Patrick Curoe, Amy Yin, Eden Motto, and Emma Quirk-Durben attended the National Service Learning Conference in Denver, Colorado to present their research projects in the Service Learning Showcase. 

After a few amusing mishaps involving forgotten IDs and TSA's incredulous reaction to a suitcase full of mannequin parts, sticks with metal brackets, and clamps, we were safely welcomed by Denver's beautiful 60° weather.

In addition to sharing their research with hundreds of conference attendees, Breck's researchers had the opportunity to attend workshops and plenary sessions, learning new ideas for their own projects as well as for the math research program.  

Along the way we met and came to love Andy Housiaux, the service learning director at Riverdale Country School in the Bronx, New York.  Riverdale is the current home of our incoming Upper School Division head, Tom Taylor.  We also made a special connection with an educator and his students from Qatar and had some wonderful conversations about everything from research to working with ADHD students.

A special shout-out to Leslie Hayes, a part of the 2013-2014 research team who was in Denver presenting a workshop, Teaching Media for Social Change, with fellow student Amanda Zeidner and Breck Director of Computer Education, AJ Colianni.

Another highlight before our trip home was an invitation from NYLC (National Youth Leadership Council) leaders, those who sponsor the service learning conference, to submit a workshop abstract for the STEM Education Center's 3rd Annual Colloquium on P-12 STEM Education to be held at the University of Minnesota.

The trip home was no less eventful than the trip out.  From the unfortunately-titled recycled folder holding our travel documents which read, "Cocaine," to Eden's cardboard violin capturing undue attention from TSA staff, to Mr Kohl's right wrist being flagged as an explosive device by scanners, our journey was again the cause of much head shaking. Spring break, here we come!

With the assistance of the iconic cardboard violin, Eden's work drew crowds of people interested in both the ACME music program as well as some of the novel assessments she and Daniel are creating to measure creativity and empathy.  Eden was often the spokesperson for the group, being taken away by NYLC staff to meet high-level directors in the NYLC organization.  One of her favorite events was the 11th Annual Indigenous Forum:  A Gathering of Elders.

Emma's work got the attention of those seeking to preserve arts education.  Her ability to quantify the benefits of theatre arts inspired others to look at their programs with an eye toward documenting academic success to assure time and funding in schools  While Emma enjoyed the entire conference, she found the plenary talk by Naomi Tutu, daughter of South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu to be particularly worthwhile.

Guess what?  Breck isn't the only school in a residential neighborhood where neighbors are concerned about traffic safety and vehicle volume.  Amy had a constant flow of visitors interested in both the results and process of her research and how it could be applied to attendees' schools.  At the conference, Amy was able to meet with a representative of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal agency committed to improving the safety of America's roads.  He was so impressed with her data-driven work that he offered her an internship

The bold colors and aggressive style of Patrick's posters attracted both GLBT activists and data-driven researchers.  His proactive approach guaranteed him a series of divergent conversations, giving him new insights as to where to go with his data and different ideas about how other groups could use his work.  When asked about having to switch between those who engaged with his work emotionally and those who engaged with his work intellectually, Partrick replied, "The biggest thing I learned at this conference was how to schmooze."